Trust bosses refuse to step down as maternity services prepare to move

MATERNITY services will be centralised at the Conquest Hospital in Hastings by the start of May.

Darren Grayson, chief executive of East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, together with chairman Stuart Welling, have also vowed they will not step down from their positions after angry campaigners called for their resignation following the controversial decision to base the consultant-led maternity unit at the Conquest and turn Eastbourne DGH’s into one led by midwives.

Bosses at the trust, which runs both hospitals, said consultant-led obstetric services, neonatal (including the Special Care Baby Unit), in-patient paediatric and emergency gynaecology services will be based at the Conquest by Tuesday May 7.

They said it is a temporary measure, expected to last around 18 months.

Earlier this month the trust said that it had been advised by doctors, midwives and nurses, together with the National Clinical Advisory Team that maternity and paediatric services at both hospitals could not continue in their present format, due to safety reasons.

The unpopular decision was made on March 8, much to the anger of campaigners from both Save the DGH and Hands off the Conquest.

Both groups had fought against similar proposals in 2008 when the then Secretary of State overturned NHS bosses’ plans.

Campaigners cited poor road infrastructure between Hastings and Eastbourne and added the latest move could potentially put mothers and babies at risk.

Mr Welling said at Wednesday’s trust board meeting: “Darren and I have no intention of standing down.

“I remain convinced we made the right decision because we cannot put mothers and babies at risk.”

Mr Grayson said: “I am delighted with the response we have had from our staff on the changes, as it has been greeted with unanimous support.

“They agree that this is the sensible and safe thing to do.

“The decision, however controversial, was the right one.”